What Type Of Use Can I Make Of My Easement?

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We have deeded access to a driveway on our neighbor’s property. It goes past his house, then turns and goes to a pole building on our property. He is blacktopping his driveway; ours is granite. A truck comes up the driveway every 60 days to pump our holding tank. Our neighbor says this can’t happen because it will damage his blacktop. We have lived here for 14 years; this neighbor has just moved in. Can he limit our use of the driveway or hold us liable for damage?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

The first thing you should look at is the deed that created your rights to the driveway. If you’re lucky, it will specify the type of use you’re allowed to make, and that may help answer your question.

Otherwise, you may be in one of those situations which is very fact-specific. Generally, the land owner (your neighbor) may make any use of an easement area as long as it doesn’t “unreasonably interfere” with the easement owner’s (your) use of the easement. As you can guess, what is “unreasonable” will differ from one situation to the next, so it’s hard to make any hard-and-fast rules, but I would certainly argue that your use is consistent with your residential use of the property, and therefore shouldn’t be interfered with.

Perhaps a better solution, in the long run, would be to work with your neighbor to try to find a driveway surface that will satisfy both your needs. This may involve some up-front expense, but in the long run, an unhappy neighbor can be very costly.

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Author: House Attorney